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2013 Pilot Projects

The CTBR awarded 2 pilot projects for our 2013-2014 grant year. Each pilot project receives $70,000/year for two years.

Progress reports for the first year of the projects:

Novel lab-on-a-chip for electric enrichment of cancer cells without biomarkers

PI: Hiroshi Matsui, Chemistry Department
The goals of the pilot project are to develop a new lab-on-a-chip to enrich circulating tumor cells in prostate and bladder cancers and to understand the relation between cell structure and composition, which is important to understand basic biomolecular uptake and fusion related to various diseases. The Matsui lab redesigned the protocol to increase enrichment efficiency of cancer cells in spike samples containing known amounts of red blood cells. Dr. Matsui also studied the origin of enrichment/detection mechanism of cancer cells via swelling events. (i.e., why cancer cells swell more than other cells) Dr. Matsui hypothesizes that the difference in cytoskeleton structure  is the key for their elasticity. Results from the first project period indicate that the cytoskeleton structure of cancer cells is responsible to characteristic swelling behavior and impedance signal, however membrane permeability seems to also have some contribution to the phenomena. Currently, the degree of effects from cytoskeleton and membrane is under analysis. Data from the first year of the project resulted in the following publication: “Impedimetric Detection of Mutant p53 Biomarker-Driven Metastatic Breast Cancers under Hyposmotic Pressure”, M. Shi, N. Shtraizent, A. Polotskaia, J. Bargonetti, H. Matsui, PloSOne, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099351 (2014).

Light it up: Developing novel imaging tools for investigating neuronal disorders

PI: Mande Holford, Biology Department
The primary objective of the proposed research is to discover and design modulatable fluorescence protein and peptide imaging tools that can be used as probes to map neuronal circuits. This project leverages the unique expertise of PI Holford and Key Collaborators, David Gruber and Vincent Pieribone, to develop innovative cell imaging tools using: i) the teams unique access to a suite of novel fluorescent marine organisms; ii) an experimental and bioinformatic work flow to identify and clone target proteins/peptides via advanced mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) and Next Generation Sequencing (RNA-seq); and, iii) a new drug delivery strategy that uses the P22 viral capid as a nanocontainer to deliver fluorescently labeled neuropeptides to their to site of action. The innovative fluorescent tools being identified from vertebrate eels will facilitate real time tracking of complex neuronal interactions related to neuronal disorders such as pain.

The first publication from this project is currently being prepared for submission to a peer reviewed journal.

Progress reports for the second and final year of the projects will be posted in fall 2015.